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Elizabeth Beskin

How to Hire the Perfect Wedding Photographer

July 11th, 2012 by | Share Blog

Wedding PhotographyOf all the planning and preparation that go into creating the perfect wedding, the most important may be choosing the right wedding photographer.  After the cake has been eaten and the guests have gone home, your photographs are all you will have left to remind you of the day. Here are a few tips that will simplify your search and help you locate the perfect photographer for you.

Get Your Thoughts Together

Set the wedding date and lock down the locations for your wedding ceremony and reception.  Like popular wedding and reception venues, good photographers are in demand, so you will need to book as far in advance as possible, preferably 6 to 9 months ahead and perhaps even more if you are planning your wedding for June or early fall, the most sought-after months.

wedding photographersKnow your budget and the type of photographs you prefer (traditional posed shots, candids, photojournalistic shots that tell the story of your wedding—or a mix).  Also, consider whether you would like engagement shots taken.  Besides giving your photographer a chance to figure out your best smiles and angles, engagement photos also let you see how he or she works and whether you are comfortable with your choice.  If taken at a place that is meaningful to you, engagement photos really let you have fun and be creative, and they’re great for engagement announcements.

Compile a List of Photographers in Your Area

There is an abundance of photographers out there. Nothing beats asking friends and family, event planners and other venue reps for recommendations. Before researching further, though, know your space and needs.  If planning an indoor wedding, make sure to get a photographer who thoroughly understands lighting—photographing you next to a fireplace in the St. Regis Hotel is very different from photographing you outdoors and requires serious expertise.  Do not make a selection based on viewing only outdoor shots.

engagement photographywedding photographers

Freelance photographers, though inexpensive, often do not have anyone to back them up in case they are sick on your wedding day.  This is an easy catastrophe to avoid: look for photographers who do provide backup.  In addition, knowing the types of photos you like will help you get a realistic idea of whether someone else’s photographer may be worth a call. When you have your referrals, go online to check out their work, but remember:  once you narrow your choices to the final contenders, it is important to view their photos off the web as well in order to truly judge their quality.

Collect Basic Information

Ask about basic packages and prices, including the availability of and cost for additional photographers, depending on the size of your wedding.  Make note of the cancellation policy, any additional expenses, coverage if the chosen photographer were to fall ill, and repercussions of either you or the photographer canceling.  You will also need to ask questions about post-production and delivery, such as how soon and in what format the photographs will be delivered, and who holds the negatives and for how long.

5th Avenue DigitalPhotographers charge anywhere from nothing to $25,000. Those who charge nothing or modest fees typically have little or no experience and are looking to use your wedding to build their portfolio. Consider what you are getting and the risk of getting stuck with pictures you hate and no option of ever redoing them.  The way in which photographers arrive at their pricing structure will vary, and one may seem more attractive because of lower prices, but in the long run, you may be sacrificing quality and peace of mind.  It is better to spend a little more to get better quality and service.

Interview Your Top Choices

Keep it consistent: ask the same questions of all candidates, beginning with whether they are available on the date you’ve chosen. Ask to see samples of their best work, and put personality at the very top of your list. This person will be working closely with and around you and your guests at arguably the most important event of your life. He or she should bring out the best in everyone, be nothing less than a joy to work with and someone whom you feel completely understands you and knows exactly what you are looking for.  Accept nothing less.

Check Reputation

It goes without saying that you must verify that the photographers you are seriously considering are reputable.   Request three references from each photographer and check them all. Refusal to provide references is a red flag.  Always check with the Better Business Bureau or any of the online forums on weddings, but in the end, good reviews prevail.

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